Pumpkin patches and gardens are overflowing with this winter squash as we move towards Thanksgiving and Halloween. But did you know how nutritious this famous orange fruit is? You can spot a nutritious food based on its colour. Mother Earth distinguishes her most nutrient dense foods with bright colours. Oranges, yellows, reds, purples and blues typically reveal foods high in antioxidants, the molecules that help repair damaged tissues, prevent disease, and restore health to our cells by reducing the oxidative stress created by poor diet, environmental pollutants, stress, aging, etc. The longer wavelength colors (reds and oranges) on the infrared spectrum are well known for their high Vitamin A and pro-Vitamin A (aka Beta-carotene) content. This vitamin is great for keeping mucous membranes (eyes, lungs, gastrointestinal tract) and skin healthy. It is necessary for the maintenance of good IgA levels, the ‘first line of defense’ antibody responsible for keeping infections at bay, by fortifying these outer and inner barriers, making it important for immunity. Vitamin A, along with lutein and zeaxanthin two other super nutrients in pumpkin, support eye sight and reduce predisposition to cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Other important nutrients found in pumpkin include Vitamins C & E, folate, potassium and iron.
Pumpkin seeds are excellent sources of zinc, a mineral necessary for healthy immune function, and also great for prostate health and the maintenance of healthy testosterone levels.
It is a healthy source of carbohydrate, with a low calorie content, making it a wonderful addition to a balanced diet. High in fiber, pumpkin will help regulate metabolism, weight and cholesterol levels and promote healthy regularity.
It is easy to add to recipes for baked goods, soups and smoothies. You can purchased organic canned pumpkin, or better yet just wash and bake your pumpkin whole (in a tray with a little water on the bottom, at 350C for about an hour, until it is soft), then slice it, scoop out the seeds and strings, and the ‘meat’ will be easy to scrape from the skin and can be used immediately or frozen for later use. Or chop, scoop the seeds and strings and then roast the ‘meat’ in the flesh and serve with a drizzle of olive or flax oil and sea salt.